16 May 2017

New e-commerce platform Noon.com, which was due to launch in January this year, is still “on track” to start operations before the end of 2017, the company’s founder Mohamed Alabbar said in a statement on Tuesday.

Alabbar, who is also the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, in November 2016 unveiled plans to partner with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the online shopping platform, with an initial investment of $1 billion.

“I am pleased to confirm that Noon is on track to launch this year,” Alabbar said in an email statement on Tuesday.

Last week, a spokesperson for Alabbar told Reuters in a statement that a technology fund lead by the Dubai billionaire had acquired e-commerce and online marketplace website JadoPado. The value of the transaction was not disclosed. The JadoPado platform is expected to be incorporated into Noon.com.

“The JadoPado team will be integrated into ongoing projects such as Noon.com and will also be involved in exciting new projects across the digital spectrum in areas such as marketplaces, food commerce, payments and logistics,” JadoPado founder and chief executive Omar Kassim told Zawya in a statement.

Kassim has been appointed chief technology officer at Noon.com, he confirmed to Zawya.

Noon.com’s beta programme has been “very insightful” and that the feedback received from early customers had allowed the company to “test and refine” its technology and fulfilment model, Alabbar said in in the statement.

“It is vital that all our systems and processes work at the highest possible level,” he added. “The coming months will be spent to ensure this, particularly with some of the many supply chain innovations we have been developing.”

Alabbar said last year that Noon.com would offer 20 million products including technology, fashion, toys and books.

The company is currently in the process of establishing strategic partnerships with an extensive range of regional retailers, distributors and global brands, he said.

Following the launch, Noon.com’s permanent operational base will be in Riyadh and the company is currently scaling up its “resourcing and operations” in Saudi Arabia, the statement added.

“This allows us an excellent opportunity to bring into the organisation some of best new young Saudi talent working in this field,” he said.

Noon.com’s acquisition of JadoPado came soon after Amazon's acquisition last month of regional e-commerce website Souq.com, which advisor Goldman Sachs told Reuters News was “the biggest-ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world”.

Amazon agreed to buy Souq.com for an undisclosed price last month, even after Alabbar made a counter offer worth $800 million to the regional e-commerce firm on behalf of Emaar Malls Group, the retail unit of Emaar Properties and the operator of The Dubai Mall.

Jado Pado launched in 2011 and developed into a wider online marketplace that allows sellers to create their own virtual shops and sell directly to buyers.

Global consultancy firm A.T. Kearney said the Gulf region's e-commerce market is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2020, according to a Reuters report published last year.

© Zawya 2017